As developers continue to eye Buford Highway, residents living in the many apartment complexes along the road are coming together to ensure they have a voice about the future of where they live.
The fledgling La Comunidad de Buford Highway (Buford Highway Apartment Association), made up of residents as well as representatives from the Latin American Association and Center for Pan Asian Community Services, have been meeting for several months at the home of Cross Keys High School English teacher Rebekah Cohen Morris.
The goal of the organization is to engage families who live along Buford Highway and to “create a path for residents to lead advocacy initiatives that they deem necessary for a healthy, livable community,” she said.
Morris likened the new group to a homeowners association, saying it would gather information, provide resources to residents, build political capital and ensure the people on Buford Highway are a part of building its future.
“This is like a grassroots group we need in our community, perhaps now more than ever,” she said.
Plans are to officially launch the group in January and to tackle topics such as public schools in the Cross Keys and Chamblee clusters, transportation along Buford Highway, sidewalk improvements, affordable housing, public safety, parks and recreational amenities, and littering.
With new attention being paid to the stretch of road along south Brookhaven in recent years and the recent funding of the Atlanta Regional Commission Livable Community Initiative in Chamblee and Doraville, Oglethorpe University student DeAnna Parker said now is the time to ensure those living along the highway have a voice.
“The whole idea for the association comes from wanting to create a safe space for the community,” said Parker, 22, a Cross Keys High School alum and Cross Keys Foundation Scholar who once lived in an apartment on Buford Highway and now lives in 93East Apartments on Shallowford Road, a stone’s throw from the corridor known for its international restaurants and businesses.
“There’s been a dynamic atmospheric shift in and around Buford Highway to drive us together,” she said.
For example, Pulte Homes, based in Atlanta, is one of the country’s largest homebuilding companies. The company is seeking to buy The Terraces at Brookhaven and Northeast Plaza Apartments, located at 3510 Buford Highway and 3506 Buford Highway, with plans to tear the complexes down and replace them with pricey townhomes. The company has not yet filed any plans with the city.
Local governments hold meetings and invite all residents to discuss the future of Buford Highway, but Parker said many parents she knows living on Buford Highway feel too intimidated to attend because they are not doctors or lawyers.
“There is a disconnect,” Parker said. The new Buford Highway Apartment Association can serve as a resource for local governments seeking community input on Buford Highway, for example.
“We could potentially provide that bridge,” she said.